Western Union vs. Xoom: money transfers

Money transfer

Finance technology has come far, but many still run into trouble when sending money domestically and overseas. However, sending funds to your loved ones shouldn’t be difficult, which is why money transfer services are so helpful. But choosing the right company for your money transfer needs can be tricky because there are many options and varying fees and features.

Today you’ll learn about two prominent brands – Xoom and Western Union (WU) – and discover reliable alternatives, such as BOSS Revolution Money Transfer.

How does Western Union money transfer work?

Established in 1851, WU is one of the oldest money transfer services. Customers can arrange money transfers online, by phone, and in person. Customers can also conduct transfers from over 100,000 ATMs worldwide.

Recipients can pick up cash at a location or deposit funds into their bank account or mobile wallet. WU also offers money orders, which you can use for purchases and bill payments.

You can perform money transfers online or via their mobile app, which is straightforward. However, for in-store transactions, you must complete the required form with the amount, recipient’s name and location.

The transaction fee will depend on the amount you’re sending overall. But how you plan to pay for your transaction and whether it’s a domestic or international money transfer may affect rates.

After paying for your money transfer, you’ll receive a money transfer control number (MTCN). The person receiving the funds will need that number and their identification documents or cards to collect the money.

All of the above can happen within minutes if you use the company’s “Money in Minutes” option. And sometimes, you can send funds in the recipient's local currency or another.

How does Xoom Money transfer work?

Xoom is a PayPal service that launched in 2001. It allows customers to arrange money transfers to friends and family globally. More specifically, its international money transfer service is available in more than 160 countries.

You can send money from your smartphone, tablet, or computer. The money transfer can go straight to the recipient’s bank account, but you can select the cash pickup or door-to-door delivery option for certain countries.

Recipients can also receive money transfers in their local currency or US dollars, and like WU, Xoom offers bill payment services. Xoom money transfer transaction fees will vary based on the send amount and other factors.

Restrictions & limits for sending money

There are limitations and restrictions to transferring money locally and internationally. As far as Western Union vs. Xoom goes, here's what you need to know.

Generally, you must report any amount over 10,000 USD that you send overseas to the government within ten days. But the amount maximum and process may vary slightly by country. Usually, the provider will have a way of reporting large transactions.

The reporting requirement is a way for governments to prevent Money Laundering (AML), terrorism, and other illegal activities.

International money transfers limits

Countries have different laws for transferring money internationally. For example, sending money to Nigeria will look different from sending funds to Mexico.

With WU, you can usually transfer 5,000 USD (or local equivalent) by default and up to $50,000 after additional verification requirements. But these limits will vary by the receiver’s country. Therefore, further restrictions may apply based on various factors. For example, the max you can send to India through WU is 2,500 USD as of this article.

WU also considers any transaction over 15,000 USD as a large money transfer. In that case, the company may request additional information, including documents to validate occupation and source of funds. Ideally, you should always have your verification information on-hand just in case.

For money transfers to bank accounts, WU and Xoom typically take five banking days to complete the transaction. But some transactions may take longer or require additional steps due to applicable restrictions.

As for Xoom limitations or restrictions, the company offers three levels that determine how much money you can send within a specific timeframe. They base sending limits on your location, how the recipient will receive the money, and any applicable partner location limits (varies by country).

Xoom’s sending limits are three levels in total – levels 1, 2, and 3. Then there's a 24-hr, 30-day, and 180-day limit that applies to all accounts. So, for example, a level 1 account in the USA can send a maximum of 2,999 USD within 24 hours. But a level 2 account can send 10,000 USD within 24 hours.

However, you can raise your sending level by upgrading the account. Xoom will require additional information or documents to increase your limit.

Domestic money transfers limits

For Western Union, you can usually send 3,000 USD domestically, but this limit will vary by country. Residents in some countries like the USA can increase their limit by verifying identity online or at a WU agent location. Once verified, the limit goes up to $50,000 or whatever is allowed by regulation in your country.

With Xoom, the same earlier restrictions apply when you send domestically (levels and tiered maximums). The only difference is in the fees you pay for the transaction.

Payment methods, exchange rates & fees

Money transfer companies typically make money from currency exchange and transfer fees – though some services like BOSS Money Transfer focus on having very low transaction fees while maintaining a competitive exchange rate.

WU accepts payments via bank account, credit card, debit card, and cash at agent locations. A card-issuer cash advance fee or other associated charges may apply for credit cards.

Xoom accepts payments for transactions via bank account, debit card, and credit card. Additionally, you can pay using the payment methods in your PayPal account – since Xoom is a PayPal Service.

Both companies charge fees based on several factors, including the country, recipient location, amount, and how you plan to pay. Exchange rates for each transaction vary according to the market and applicable margin.

Which is cheaper, Western Union or Xoom?

It’s important to carefully compare exchange rates and transfer fees when choosing a remittance transfer provider. After all, the less you pay, the more money can go into the pockets of your loved ones.

So is Xoom cheaper than Western Union? Or is it the other way around? To compare, here’s what it would cost to send $500 from the USA to Mexico using both services.

How much do money transfer services charge to send $500 to a bank account?

Payment Method

Xoom Fees in USD

WU Fees in USD

Bank account



PayPal balance



Debit card



Credit card



Pay in-store



How much do money transfer services charge to send $500 for a cash pick up?

Payment Method

Xoom Fees in USD

WU Fees in USD

Bank account



PayPal balance



Debit card



Credit card



Pay in-store



Overall, Xoom is cheaper than WU, as illustrated above.

Proof of identity

Most people will need a photo ID, proof of address and source of funds to send money. However, as noted earlier, you may need to provide additional documents when sending a large amount.

Here are some examples of acceptable identification documents.

  • Photo ID – your driver's license, residence ID, or Passport
  • Proof of address – the electricity bill, phone bill, and driver's license in some places
  • Source of funds – bank or tax statement
  • Financial statement – credit card or bank account statement

Note that at WU and Xoom locations, senders may also have to provide a reason for sending the funds.

Western Union vs. Xoom: locations near me

WU has about 500,000 agent locations in over 200 countries. You'll find WU agent locations in grocery stores, supermarkets, check cashers, convenience stores, etc. These locations typically accept debit cards, credit cards, or cash. Some countries also allow WU agent locations in banks, post offices, travel agencies, and airports.

In contrast, there are fewer Xoom partner locations, though they number in the thousands worldwide. Xoom partnered with Ria1 (another money transfer company) to offer customers cash pickups at over 150,000 locations. Customers may use their debit or credit card for in-store transactions.

How long do money transfers take?

A money transfer can take a few minutes or several days, depending on the kind of services you choose. Additionally, the date and time of day you initiate the transfer will also affect the timeframe. For example, many financial institutions close on weekends and holidays. Similarly, many banks have a cut-off point for same-day, next-day, or three-day money transfers.

How fast is Western Union?

WU domestic money transfers usually take 24 hours and, in some cases, much faster to reach the recipient. Transfers between the same financial institution or bank can allow your recipient to receive funds immediately.

For overseas money transfers, this can take one to five business days. Plus, time zone and exchange rate differences will also influence how long it takes. Further, countries classified as “slow-to-pay” by WU may take even longer – up to three weeks, depending on whatever regulation is in force.  

How fast is Xoom?

Xoom completes most transfers within minutes, but some can take longer. This depends on where you’re sending the money from, your payment method, and the cashout or deposit method (bank, cash pick up, or home delivery).

Bank deposits usually take one business day. However, if you select cash pick up, it will typically reach the recipient’s destination within minutes.

How to receive money: Western Union vs. Xoom

Xoom and WU vary slightly in how recipients receive money. But each one lets people collect cash in person or via bank deposit. Most WU and Xoom similar companies also support these methods.

However, Xoom’s cash pickup partners have unique guidelines and restrictions. Most notably, the total amount of money you can receive at each location differs in some countries. For example, some partner locations max out at 1,000 USD per 24-hour period. To receive funds, your recipient must fill out a form and provide a valid photo ID and the Xoom Transaction Number.

For WU, the recipient can pick up cash in-store using their photo ID and MTCN (Money Transfer Control Number). In addition, some WU agent locations can load funds onto a prepaid card besides providing cash or bank deposit. Further, recipients can cash to a debit card online.

WU locations may also have unique restrictions and guidelines.

Promotional codes

Xoom and WU offer promo codes from time to time.

You can also opt-in to receive promotions via email or SMS. For WU, users can opt-in to receive marketing SMS at any participating agent location or their website. Xoom uses SMS notifications, but it's unclear whether they also send promotions that way.  

There are also websites on the Internet dedicated to recording active promotional codes, such as RetailMeNot2. Over there, you can find the latest promos for WU, Xoom, and any other organization by performing a search.

'Refer a friend' programs

WU has a Refer a Friend program – much like many Western Union similar companies in the industry. Customers can earn a reward for every friend they invite, but the type of reward varies by country. For example, as of this article, US residents will receive an Amazon e-gift code – 20 USD value.

To participate, you must share your referral link with friends or family. In addition, each person must create a profile with WU and complete an online domestic or international money transfer. Also, note that the WU referral program may not be available in some countries, and a minimum send amount is probable.

As for Xoom, the company paused its ‘Invite Friends’ program early this year to improve it. And there's been no official release date for the new one.

Registration bonus

Xoom has no current registration bonus. However, sometimes WU waves the first transaction fee, and bonus promotions vary by country.

Security and privacy

If you're concerned about privacy and security, you're not alone. Most people rightfully worry about these things. After all, customers want the service they use to have the necessary precautions to safeguard their financial and personal information.

Thankfully, Xoom and WU seem to take safety seriously. For some specifics, Xoom uses 128-bit data security encryption to protect the information sent between your computer or smartphone and their platform. In addition, every web page on the Xoom website serves over an encrypted channel.

WU also encrypts data transmissions, though the company did not specify an exact encryption method. The organization also claims it educates staff and customers regularly about protecting themselves from fraud or scams.

Which mobile app is the best?

Xoom and Western Union have money transfer apps for Android and iOS that are free to download.

The WU mobile app

The WU money transfer app allows customers to view exchange rates, send money, track transfers, and find nearby agent locations. New customers can also register to create a profile from the app.

Optionally, you can log in using Touch ID (electronic fingerprint recognition) instead of typing in your credentials. You can also approximate the cost of the transfer before proceeding, which is a good way to avoid unwanted surprises.

Another great feature of the WU mobile app is the card scanning technology. It lets customers scan their credit or debit cards using the smartphone camera. Further, you can save your receiver’s information to expedite future transfers.

Xoom mobile app

The Xoom mobile app is popular among users for sending money abroad because it is easy to use. If you already have a PayPal account, you can log in to Xoom using the same credentials. That also means you can use the payment methods stored on PayPal.

New users can quickly create an account from the mobile app (a PayPal account is not required). Then, you can send money to any country that Xoom supports, and the company offers 24/7 protection and fraud monitoring for transactions. And like WU, you can see your transaction fees and exchange rates before sending funds.

Xoom’s mobile app also provides real-time tracking updates, which means you’ll know exactly when the money is delivered.

So which app is better?

Both applications are very user-friendly and feature useful functions that streamline transactions. However, Xoom has fewer features than WU, but it excels at user experience. If you already have a PayPal account, Xoom might be the right choice. However, WU may be the way to go if you want greater coverage and more features.

Customer care

WU customer service is available 24x7 and in many languages. Xoom’s customer care is open from Monday to Sunday, 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM Eastern.

Here are the methods available to reach customer service:

  • Xoom – Users can contact customer service by phone, email, and direct mail. As of this article, Xoom Money Transfer has 4.8/5 stars on the App Store, and for Google Play, it's rated 4.7/5 stars.
  • WU – Customers can reach customer support by chat, email, phone, and direct mail. The current user review rating for the WU money transfer app on the App Store and Google Play is 4.5/5 stars.

Disputing money transfers

If you have a dispute with Xoom, you can contact the company using the ‘Help’ link on their website. There, you’ll also find answers to common questions.

For WU, you can call their toll-free number to report any dispute. Also, if the recipient is yet to collect the money transfer, WU can stop the transaction and refund your money. To report fraud, customers can call WU’s fraud hotline or use their site's online fraud claim form.

Western Union & Xoom: similar companies

Here are some alternatives to WU and Xoom.

1. BOSS Revolution money transfer

BOSS Money Transfer is one of the safest and most affordable online solutions. The company is known for its low fees (as low as $1.99) and great exchange rates. You can send money anytime and from anywhere using your smartphone. Users also see their fees and exchange rates before sending.

To send money, use their website, download the mobile app, or find the nearest agent location. Recipients can receive funds via bank deposit, home delivery, cash pickup, and mobile wallet. There are over 300,000 payout locations worldwide!

BOSS Money Transfer guarantees your transaction – if your money doesn’t arrive safely to the recipient, the company will issue a full refund.

The service is only available to US residents currently.


2. MoneyGram

Now called MoneyGram International, the company has 350,000 physical locations worldwide. Users can send money by visiting a nearby location or logging into the online platform (app or website). MoneyGram also lets users see an estimate of their fees before making a transfer. However, your exchange rate estimate can change after the transfer. So carefully assess everything before proceeding.

3. WorldRemit

WorldRemit is based in London but has offices internationally. While their service is reasonable, fees and exchange rates competitive, the company only supports 130+ countries worldwide. Service areas include Africa, Asia, the Americas, Australia, and the Middle East.

Customers can choose cash pickup and mobile wallet when sending to some countries, but bank deposit is often available. 

Sources: all third party information obtained from applicable website as of August 5, 2022

  1. https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20180828005211/en/Xoom-Partners-with-Ria-Money-Transfer-to-Accelerate-Global-Expansion-in-86-Countries

  2. https://www.retailmenot.com

  3. https://help.xoom.com/s/article/how-much-money-can-i-send?language=en_US#UnitedStates

  4. https://help.xoom.com/s/article/what-is-required-to-send-higher-amounts-of-money?language=en_US

  5. https://www.westernunion.com/blog/en/send-receive-money-western-union-2/

  6. https://www.westernunion.com/ca/en/home.html

  7. https://www.xoom.com/xoom-locations?receiveCountryCode=US

  8. https://www.westernunion.com/blog/en/us-how-long-does-money-transfer-take/

  9. https://www.xoom.com/go/invite-friends-coming-soon

  10. https://www.westernunion.com/us/en/frequently-asked-questions/faq-refer-a-friend.html

  11. https://www.westernunion.com/ca/en/legal/terms-conditions.html

  12. https://www.westernunion.com/us/en/security-center.html

  13. https://apps.apple.com/us/app/xoom-money-transfer/id529615515

  14. https://apps.apple.com/au/app/western-union-money-transfer/id1122288720

  15. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.westernunion.android.mtapp&hl=en_CA&gl=US

  16. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.xoom.android.app&hl=en_CA&gl=US

  17. https://help.xoom.com/s/contactsupport?language=en_US

  18. https://wucare.westernunion.com/s/customer-care-home?language=en_US

  19. https://www.westernunion.com/us/en/contact-us.html

  20. https://www.westernunion.com/us/en/fraudawareness/fraud-report-fraud.html

  21. https://www.moneygram.com/intl/about-moneygram-en

  22. https://www.moneygram.com/mgo/us/en/locations

  23. https://www.worldremit.com/en/faq/bank-transfers/available-countries

This article is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to address every aspect of the matters discussed herein. The information in this article is not intended as specific personal advice. The information in this article does not constitute legal, tax, regulatory or other professional advice from IDT Payment Services, Inc. and its affiliates (collectively, “IDT”), and should not be taken or used as such by any individual. IDT makes no representation, warranty or guaranty, whether express or implied, that the content in this article is current, accurate, or complete. You should obtain professional or other substantive advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the information in this article.